Saturday, June 30, 2012

Keeping Your Cool

A ton of people have been posting on the mommy forums and whatnot recently about how to keep babies cool in the car. This is a huge problem, especially now that babies are supposed to stay rear-facing until at least 2 years old, because that means that the AC in the car hits the back of their car seats and not them for at least 2 summers of their itty bitty lives. Last summer I did an internet search for ideas, and found an article on the American Academy of Pediatrics website that stated that "if you are comfortable in your car, your baby probably is too." (I can't for the life of me find the link, but I'll keep looking.) Clearly the people who wrote this article live in North Dakota. Here in Texas, where summers are so hot that it would be cooler to hang out in hell than to ride in the car, the typical recommendations to turn on your AC first and tint your windows just don't cut it. Then you add to that the fact that our daughter has a decreased ability to control her own body temperature as a nifty little side effect of her tumor, and we have a serious problem on our hands. So my handsome husband and I put our heads together, and came up with this 3 part cooling system that we thought we'd share. You are welcome to use any of the ideas we have, but if you choose to re-create any of our original projects (or the ones from my friend Shanna) please don't sell them for a profit.

First, my husband got to work on an air circulation system that would keep Munchkin cooler while she is actually sitting in the car.

First we purchased this clip on fan and tried to use it as a solution:

This fan would probably be a great solution for a stroller, but in the Texas heat it didn't work for a car seat, because the extreme heat inside the car drained the batteries in about a day and a half. We even tried to use rechargeables, but the battery compartment of this fan requires for you to use a teeny tiny screw driver to open it and access the batteries to switch them out, which meant that I typically was standing there holding my sweaty baby in a parking lot trying to unscrew the flippin thing for like 10 minutes... a royal pain.

So we went back to the drawing board.

Husband stole nicely asked if he could use my small night stand fan and turned it into a car fan. Now, I am fully aware of the current recommendations about projectiles in vehicles. If we were to get in an accident the fan creation could possibly become a projectile and hurt our baby (or us for that matter.) We have considered this risk, and decided to take our chances, especially since the way the installation of the fan works in our vehicle makes the angles at which it could hit our daughter very limited, and our daughter's neurosurgeon told us that we absolutely had to figure out something to keep her from overheating and dehydrating from sweat. So before you go all judgey-wudgey on me, know that we have made this calculated decision for ourselves only, and you are free to do the same if you so choose. =)

Husband sawed off a piece of PVC pipe and used a strong epoxy glue to stick it to the bottom of the fan. Then he filled the pipe with rocks (to make it bottom heavy) and glued on a PVC cap.

Then we purchased a cigarette lighter power converter which allows us to plug the fan in, and whenever we turn the car on, we can plug the whole shebang into the cigarette lighter and the fan starts blowing.

We pulled down the center console next to our daughter's car seat and popped the whole thing into the cup holder, and then point it right at her. Beautiful. Good work, husband!

Next, I got to work on creating a system for keeping the car seat cooler while we left it parked in the sun (the fan can't run when the car isn't on.) My friend Shanna and I had been talking about how we were particularly concerned about the buckles being burning hot, so we both were thinking about solutions for this problem, and she came up with an awesome sewing project. She wrote her own blog post about it, and then I followed (some of) her directions. Not all of them, because I'm a lazy seamstress and refused to use bias tape... I also refused to make measurements of any kind and just went for it. I'm a free spirited crafter.  =) As it turns out, mine works just fine!

I soak it for a few minutes in the evenings to re-hydrate it, then I stick it in the fridge over night. I grab it each morning before we head out the door, and whenever we park the car, I take out baby girl and toss in the cooling pad, making sure to cover the buckles. No more burning hot buckles, and it helps keep munchkin's back a bit cooler (albeit somewhat damp, but not with sweat, so that's a win in my book!) Shanna says this in her blog, but I will reiterate, this pad is not intended for use while the child is buckled into the seat. Love it!

The third and final piece to our system is a simple spring loaded sunshade. Get the kind that comes with 2 separate pieces, and pop one of them over the top of your carseat (with the cooling pad underneath). This way, the entire seat is shaded while you leave it parked.

Voila! Our car is still hot, but my baby isn't over heating or sweating so much anymore, and I'm a happy mamma. Does anyone have any other car seat cooling suggestions? I'd love to hear them!

Happy Summer!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Sweet Precious Girl...

Cadence has grown up a lot lately, and has developed into a very sweet and cuddly little 21 month old toddler. Though she wants so badly to be independent, she still finds countless ways each day to show us that she loves us. These are just a few of her latest ways that she has found to melt our hearts!

~First thing in the morning, when she is still in her crib, we go in to get her and are greeted with a huge smile as she throws herself at us to help her stand up and get out... very quickly, too, once I wasn't ready for her and she threw herself at me anyway and faceplanted into the side of her crib! She is so excited to get up and start the day.

~Greeting the birdies. While I change her diaper and get her dressed in the mornings, she is busy straining her neck from the changing table to see out the window and say hello to the birdies!

~Shoes!!! Cadence LOVES her shoes, and loves trying to take them off/put them on by herself. Oddly enough, she loves her foot brace, too!

~Kisses for everyone! Cadence blows kisses at EVERYONE these days. When you say bye bye, she blows kisses. When we tuck her in at night and say "I Love You!" she smacks a kiss in reply. She kisses her dolls, her rubber duckies, pictures in her books, and this week she kissed the glass of the ferret enclosure at PetCo to give the ferrets a kiss!

~Hugging Daddy night-night: Cadence and I are both night owls, and bed time is usually around 10 or 11 for us, but daddy goes to bed around 9, so once he is settled in bed, Cadence and I go in to tell him goodnight. She lays on his chest and gives him the best cuddly hugs. It is so sweet! And then it is over. When the hug is over, it is over. That's how she operates. =)

~Story time: Story "time" is a term used loosely, because it's basically on and off all day long! Recently, Cadence has become a big time book worm, and I LOVE it!!! She will pick a book out of her book drawer, put it up on the couch, meticulously close the book drawer, then bring the book to me, climb up on my lap, read the story with me, then set it aside in a pile, climb down, go back to the book drawer, get one more book, and do the whole process over and over and over and over! She is not picky about which books she chooses, it's typically whichever one she reaches fastest on top of the pile. I think she enjoys the process of bringing them to me and sitting on my lap most of all! Right before bed time we do our last story time of the day, and we read with just the little reading light on in the living room. She knows this means it's almost time to go to bed, so she tries to prolong it as much as she can!

~Favorite toys right now are books, dolls, especially her baby boy doll, picture word cards, BUBBLES!!!, stacking bath cups, puzzles, and rubber duckies.

~Words she can say now include:

*Arf (barking like a dog)
*Buh-buh (bubbles)

Words she can sign include:

*Finished (all done)
*Shaking head no

She is getting more and more confident standing on her own, and is itching to try out her first steps, but they haven't happened yet!!! Pics soon to come...